Football

Neymar praised by Barcelona team-mates for filling void left by Lionel Messi

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Neymar's Barcelona teammates have moved to praise the 23-year-old Brazil international for successfully stepping up to fill the gap left by star man Lionel Messi, who suffered an ankle injury towards the end of September.

The Argentine magician was forced off against Las Palmas after he tore his knee ligaments, depriving the famous MSN of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar of their main man.

The Catalonians haven't missed Messi's absence as much as most thought they would, though, with Neymar bearing the goalscoring burden ever since.

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"I think it is the case that Neymar has taken up a role where he participates more in the build-up of play with Messi not there," Barcelona defender Marc Bartra told Sky Sports.

"He is playing well and with the quality that we have in attack it is important that players like he and Suarez keep scoring the goals for us."

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The La Liga giants have sufficiently coped without Messi, winning three of their four matches since the Argentine's lay off, with the focus ever since on the performances of Neymar.

Javier Mascherano also told Sky Sports: "Neymar and Suarez are among the best players in the world, they needed to step up and fill the gap which is what is happening but it is also the responsibility of the rest of the team."

Amidst Neymar's rich vein of form, however, comes reported interest from Manchester United to sign the mercurial Brazilian.

In response, Neymar has called for supporters to remain "calm", following news that the Brazilian has settled a deal with Barca that could see him commit to the club for the rest of his career.

What will ultimately prove the Red Devils' loss will come as further gain for the Catalans, then, with the Brazilian showing his qualities in the absence of Barcelona's all-time leading goalscorer.

Neymar's two assists for Ivan Rakitic's goals during the 2-0 victory at BATE Borisov in the Champions League on Tuesday came after putting four past Rayo Vallecano at the weekend.

The stats are comforting news for Luis Enrique, knowing he can put his trust in someone else to be clinical in front of goal.

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Topics:
Barcelona
La Liga
Football

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